Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Learning How to Say "No"

There are a lot of reasons people find it difficult to say no when asked a favor: they are nice and want to accommodate the person making the request if possible (no matter how well they know the person); they are seeking recognition and a higher profile and believe that saying yes is a way to get it; they are too polite to say no when they really want to say no; they want to be liked or at least they don’t want to be disliked; they find it easier to say yes than to open up a potential argument or injured feelings by saying no.

I could go on, I’m sure. This week one of the guys on my son’s floor in the dormitory had a laptop crisis – his was apparently broken (although how you “break” a laptop, short of dropping it, is beyond me). I don’t know if he asked to borrow the computer of any of the other fellows on the floor, but the one who said “yes” was my son. When I spoke to him yesterday afternoon, he told me that someone was using it, and he said he hoped nothing happened to it. I suggested to my son that if he was worried about it (and I was a bit concerned myself), he should go to the kid and “Just say you have two take-home exams that you need to get started on that you hadn’t thought of when you said yes.”

I wasn’t sure whether he was comfortable with this partial truth – he does have two take-home exams, but was not ready to start working on them – and I don’t know what he ended up saying to his neighbor. But not much later he had the laptop back. I was definitely relieved that it was back in his possession; but equally I was proud that he spoke up for himself to get it.

No comments: